Mayo Hospital’s Surgical Tower is scheduled to be completed at the tail end of 2012 but insiders say that this is highly unlikely.
With an estimated cost of Rs2 billion the project was officially started on April 6, 2006, during former chief minister Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi’s tenure. Mayo Hospital Medical Superintendent Dr Zahid Pervaiz told The Express Tribune that the project would be completed by December 31, 2012. However, officials associated with the completion claim that the project will be delayed.
A doctor associated with the project, speaking on the condition of anonymity, told The Tribune, “The project was initiated in 2004 as a Trauma Centre. Later its name was changed. This is probably the only Health Department project that has undergone such major changes. The work started in 2006 and was meant to be completed in three years. Six years have passed and not a single facility at the tower has become functional.”
According to project documents the Tower was to have four major surgical wards. It was also to have 350 beds in the wards and model class rooms equipped so that students could watch live surgeries at hospitals in the UK through a video link. It was to have a state-of-the-art Skills Laboratory for surgeons, conference rooms and rooms for private patients.
In 2009, the capacity was increased to 800 beds. According to a senior doctor, who has also been associated with the project, there was a proposal to demolish the floors which had been constructed by then. This, however, was dropped when the contractor refused to demolish the floors unless he was paid the Rs8.5 million he said he had already spent on construction. According to Dr Pervaiz the number of beds was then fixed at 521.
The frustrated senior doctor said that initially the building was planned to be seven-storey but it was now being constructed as a five-storey tower. Not a single room is functional despite Rs170 million being pumped into it,” he said.
“Every 20 days, the plan of the Surgical Tower undergoes a change. It’s become a white elephant. The average life-span of such buildings in our country is 25 years. Six years have passed and if it takes a few more years to complete, repairs will need to begin within two or three,” he added.
A senior professor, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said, “Initially, major surgical units were to be shifted to the Surgical Tower but now only plastic surgery and maxillofacial surgery units will also be shifted to it. This is being done to please just one person who is from the maxillofacial surgery unit and now heads the project.”
According to the original plan, the surgical wards were to be moved to the Tower and the maxillofacial and plastic surgery units were to take their place. However, now it seems the wards will have some presence in the Tower but will not entirely shift there.
Dr Riaz Warraich, the project director said, “Old wards don’t want to leave their surgical floors. They will remain at their current location and will also have space here. That’s why we will shift the maxillofacial and plastic surgery units here.” Dr Warraich had no comment regarding when the Tower would be completed.
A senior faculty member said that the surgery wards are willing to shift completely to the Tower
Dr Pervaiz said, “Some 85 per cent of the work has been completed at the tower and just 15 per cent is left.”
However, a source close to the contractor disagreed. “The construction will take at least two more years to complete.”
“We need Rs300 million more to complete the construction and the Health Department has sanctioned that amount. We will have the Tower running on the announced date. Some equipment like the MRI can be installed later on,” Dr Pervaiz said.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 1st, 2012.
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